by Will Rennie, Academic Manager
About 6 months ago, I realised something about myself for the first time, something I’d always known on some level but had never consciously acknowledged – I was a writer.
I didn’t consider myself ‘a Writer’, so to speak – someone who thinks it’s their dream profession or their calling. I certainly wasn’t a writer at the time – it had been years since I’d written anything creative. Yet, thinking back to adolescence, every creative impulse I’d had was expressed in writing. I’d produced song lyrics, for which I wasn’t able to write music; poems, from those with fairly loose, rambling rhyme schemes to tightly-controlled sonnets; many short stories, most of which I’d completed; and one or two bigger projects I’d always planned to return to. I’d explored other creative avenues as well, like most people, but never with the same feeling that they were a natural outlet.
I thought back to when I’d left writing behind and realised that ultimately it was about halfway through my time at university, though I’d been producing less and less since I left school. Beyond the age of 21 (save for one or two very sporadic pieces), I had only ever tinkered with previous work, rather than completing those which were unfinished or starting anything new.
Still, the realisation was an important one – it was in writing that my creative instincts had felt most naturally expressed. I was a writer! One, granted, who had forgotten how to listen to his own creative impulse, but a writer nonetheless. After this came two questions: how had I forgotten how to listen, and could I get back to where I’d been?
To the first question, I supposed part of it had to do with my degree, a time in which I had to write so much for my course that I was glad to get away from it when I had the chance. Part of it was that, around the same time, I’d chosen to continue with what beginnings I’d made in music by joining a band. A third reason was undoubtedly the pub. But, as I think back, I believe the main reason was simply that I hadn’t identified the channel that my creativity had naturally flowed into in years past. Had I come to that realisation at the time (broader questions about the nature of the education system I was brought up in notwithstanding), had I recognised the writer in me, I might never have fallen out of the habit. In this situation I suspect I’m not alone.
As for whether I could get back to where I’d been, I’ve discovered the answer to be ‘yes, but with difficulty’. I never approached writing with a particular process when I was younger – all I did was sit down in my free time and start writing. Now, though, I need to make time, which is a different proposition at 32 than at 17. To remake a habit of it, I haven’t been able to wait for inspiration to coincide with a free schedule. The results haven’t always been pretty, but they have been results, and I find it far easier to work with what’s on paper than start from scratch.
My last 6 months, then, have been a process of surprising and rewarding rediscovery. I’d recommend making time to think about your more creative self – think on life before work really began, before studying and the pub made their demands on your time, to when the creative spirit spoke to you more clearly. Ask yourself where that spirit led you, when and why it faded and what you need to make happen to hear it once again.